Do you believe that you are being harassed or being unfairly abused by a debt collector? The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) protects a consumer from unfair, harassing and deceptive collection practices. In some instances, the consumer may be able to sue the company violating fair debt rules for statutory damages up to $1,000.00 plus actual damages suffered and attorney fees.
Under the FDCPA, debt collectors must not only comply with certain requirements in their collection activities, but they are prohibited from taking certain actions against consumers as well.
Collection abuse can take many forms, including but not limited to:
- the use of obscene or profane language by collection agents;
- threats of violence or other illegal actions;
- telephone calls at unreasonable hours;
- misrepresentation of a consumer's legal rights;
- disclosing information about a consumer's debts to neighbors, friends or an employer;
- obtaining information about a consumer through false pretenses;
- impersonating police officers and attorneys;
- demanding payment of a debt that is not owed by the consumer, including demanding payment of a debt not incurred by a consumer, a debt that has been paid off in the past, or a debt that was subject to, or discharged in bankruptcy;
- making false statements about the amount of the debt owed;
- making representations that if a consumer does not pay a debt, he/she will be arrested or imprisoned;
- falsely representing that a consumer committed a crime in order to disgrace him/her;
- failing to disclose certain information under the FDCPA;
- making false threats to sue a consumer.
You have specific rights under the FDCPA:
- You have the right to know what company is contacting you and what debt the collection agency is attempting to collect from you. If you have only been contacted by telephone, the collection agency is almost always required to send you a collection letter shortly after the first phone call.
- You have the right to dispute the debt with the collection agency. If you dispute the debt, you DO NOT have to give the collection agency proof. You should just put your dispute in writing and send it via certified mail to the collection agency.
- You have the right to demand that the collection agency send you verification that the debt is owed. You must make this demand in writing.
- You have the right to demand the collection agency give you the name and address of the original creditor if it is different from the current creditor. You must make this demand in writing.
- You have the right to tell the debt collector to stop contacting you.
- You have the right to tell the debt collector that it may not contact you at work, and the collection agency must stop contacting you at work.
- You have a right to privacy regarding the details of collection activities. A debt collection agency is only allowed to contact third parties about your debt in order to get your location/contact information.
- You have the right not to be contacted directly by a collection agency if the collection agency knows that you are represented by an attorney.
- You have the right to ensure that all debts are reported correctly on your credit report and that they are removed after the appropriate amount of time.
- You have the right to sue a collection agency for its illegal actions within one year from the date on which the collection action takes place.
- You have the right to consult with an attorney if you believe you have a claim against a debt collector. If this is the case, you should do the following: If you receive telephone calls from a collection agency, write down everything that was said by the collector and yourself during the telephone call, the date and time of the telephone call, the phone number the collector called from if available, and any other details you remember about the call. Also, save ALL of your collection letters.
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